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Hawaii Underwater Cleanup – A Look Below the Surface

This past weekend saw thousands of divers around the world participating in underwater cleanup events through the Project AWARE organization. Diverwire contributing writer Jen Tempchin took part in a local event in Hawaii. Here’s her report she’s titled, “Entanglement”.

Who would have thought that the sport of fishing leaves so much debris behind?  I am in awe of how much broken fishing line, weight and lures our Maui Dreams team finds penetrating the coral heads at the Pali Lookout.  I say penetrating because the lines are wrapped around just about everything and the lures penetrate in between crevices throughout the maze of coral heads, lava rock and ocean floor.


I am shocked that I have been diving for over 15 years and did not realize that much of encrusted free flowing wispy wisps are actually old fishing lines that nature has engulfed.  Because these lines are so entangled with the coral heads, the older lines look like part of the natural growth.

There are live animals living on these lines that have built their shell homes around them.  So they are left behind.  The new lines are cut and the weights and lures collected and carried back to the diver sorting through the debris on the ocean floor, who then sends the collected garbage up by air bag from 60 feet to the surface snorkel support who swims the heavy bags back to the boat for on-board sorting. After we arrive back to Maalaea Harbour, the broken fishing debris is taken to Maui Sporting Goods for recycling.

I decide after perusing the sandy ocean floor to seek out debris on and around the coral heads.  Luckily, I get to gaze upon the infamous Hawaiian Honu (giant sea turtles), pufferfish, white mouth eels, angelfish, butterfly fish and the what seems to be the entire sea urchin family, as I collect debris to protect them and their home, as before my fellow fishermen friends decided to toss their hunting gear in the ocean and leave it behind.

Excuse me, Pardon me, Mr. Eel, Mrs. Honu, I have to remove the line wrapped around your home and hello you are sitting on trash that shouldn’t even be here.  Don’t stick me Miss Spiny Sea Urchin, I just want to squeeze by you to get that ugly steel weight out of your path.  You guys don’t really need man-made fishing hooks and lines all over you.  Okay I will leave those of you alone that decided to build your entire life on top of this fishing weight.

Thoughts of all the fishing equipment all over Maui, Hawaii and all over the world that are left behind run through my head.  How massive this must be?  How much garbage is in our Oceans?  I can not fathom how many fathoms of Ocean suffer from man’s pollution!

Don Domingo, owner of Maui Dreams, donates his boat, crew, weights, tanks and food not only today on International Clean Up Day, but four times a year.  He is a pioneer here in Maui of proactive maintenance on the reefs and shares with our team of 21 divers that this Pali site has been cleaned more than 10 times over the past couple of years by his divers.  Don asks us to imagine the seascape when he first started taking volunteer divers out.  Well this is hard to do because the Pali fishermen just gave our dive team of 21 full time work for 2 hours under the sea.

Then I really wonder, who else on Maui is cleaning up the ocean today or any other day?

This particular event was sponsored by Maui Dreams Dive Center –

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